Cablegate: The Ambassador's Meeting with Mod Dg Buchris

DE RUEHTV #2236/01 2701530
O 261530Z SEP 08 ZDK

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 TEL AVIV 002236


E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/26/2018

TEL AVIV 00002236 001.2 OF 003

Classified By: Ambassador James B. Cunningham, Reason 1.4 (b) (d)

1. (S) Summary. During a September 24 meeting with the
Ambassador, Ministry of Defense Director General Pinchas
Buchris stressed the strategic importance of Israel's
relations with the U.S. He said he hoped Iran's nuclear
program could be stopped without the use of force, but made
clear that Israel will not live with a nuclear Iran. Buchris
complained about the international community's failure to
enforce UNSCR 1701 and questioned U.S. plans to sell sniper
rifles to the Lebanese Armed Forces. Regarding the Joint
Strike Fighter, Buchris said he had been surprised by his
"tough meeting" with General Davis in Washington, and said we
need to find a solution that addresses Israel's requirements.
Buchris thanked the Ambassador for the X-band radar system.
Buchris also said Israel had to find a way to separate Syria
from Iran and Hizballah, but said this could not be done
without U.S. support. The Ambassador noted his beliefthat a
secure Israel is key to U.S. interests inthe Middle East,
adding that he had told DefenseMinister Barak that he would
always speak franklyand look for solutions to differences.
The Ambasador condemned Ahmadinejad's speech to the UNGA an
said we were seeking to continue our engagementwith Russia
on Iran. The Ambassador pointed outthat we now have a good
dialogue with Israel on Lebanon, and said our differences
over Syria were matter of tactics and not goals. The
Ambassador praised Buchris' work on export controls, and said
the issue was now behind us and should stay that way. On the
Joint Strike Fighter, the Ambassador said part of the problem
was that Israel was seeking a special package for a small
number of planes, but he stressed his willingness to help
find a solution. The Ambassador concluded by noting his
guarded optimism regarding IDF-PASF security cooperation. He
presented Buchris with a formal request to build a new
Palestinian police barracks at Kadim, hoping for early
approval. Buchris said he has responsibility within the MOD
for promoting Palestinian economic development, adding that
he is trying to remove as many barriers as possible given
security constraints. End Summary.

2. (S) The Ambassador, accompanied by Pol Couns, called on
MOD Director General Pinchas Buchris September 24. Buchris
was joined by MOD Pol-Mil Director Amos Gilad's assistant
Rami Yungman and a member of Buchris' staff. Buchris began
by wishing the Ambassador success in his mission, noting the
U.S. role as Israel's most important strategic partner.
Buchris commented that his military career included
responsibility for military intelligence cooperation with the
U.S., during which period he developed great appreciation for
U.S. capabilities. Buchris said the crisis over Israeli
technology transfer to China was now "in the past," and that
he hoped we would continue to move forward. The Ambassador
said he believes that a secure Israel is key to American
interests in the Middle East, adding that as Ambassador he
would do whatever he could to bolster Israel's security. The
Ambassador observed that he had told Defense Minister Barak
that while the U.S. would sometimes disagree with Israel, he
would always speak frankly and look for solutions to
problems. Buchris expressed appreciation for the X-band
radar system that EUCOM is setting up in southern Israel,
noting that this system is an important contribution to
Israel's defense. The Ambassador noted the details are still
under discussion and asked Buchris to let him know if
problems arise.

Hope for Strong U.S. Action on Iran

3. (S) Turning to Iran, Buchris said Ahmadinejad's speech to
the UN General Assembly had reminded him of Hitler. He noted
that while many nations may feel they can live with a
nuclear-armed Iran, Israel cannot. Iran may have a nuclear
bomb within one or two years. If sanctions or other efforts
can stop Iran's nuclear program, that would be best, he said,
adding that he believes Russia does not want to see a nuclear
Iran but also wants to use the "Iranian card" against the
U.S. Buchris urged the U.S. to take "strong action" before
Israel is forced to act on its own. He then reiterated his
support for "other ways of dealing with Iran" if they can
yield the desired results.

4. (S) The Ambassador said he had watched part of
Ahmadinejad's speech and had found it reprehensible, adding
that the Iranian speech contrasted sharply with those of
other UNGA speakers. The U.S. is frustrated by the
difficulties we have faced in getting our international
partners to deal seriously with Iran, but we have not given
up. We are trying to separate our engagement with Russia on
Iran from other issues. Part of the problem is that we do

TEL AVIV 00002236 002.2 OF 003

not know the end point to what Russia is prepared to do with
Iran. The Ambassador noted that the Chinese need to
understand that a war with Iran would be a disaster for
China. Preventing an Iranian bomb is a core Chinese interest
but they do not seem to realize it. The Ambassador praised
the close U.S.-Israeli dialogue on Iran, as well as on

Lebanon and Syria

5. (S) Buchris said it was hard for non-Israelis to
understand what it is like to live next to Hamas and
Hizballah. Israelis have already gotten used to the idea
that Hizballah's rockets and missiles can now cover all of
Israel. Hizballah now has three times as many rockets and
missiles as it had before the Second Lebanon War. Buchris
said he hoped Israel would not have to fight a second round,
but if Israel had to it would make sure there would be no
question as to who had won. Buchris complained that the
international community had failed to enforce UNSCR 1701,
there was no attempt to stop the smuggling of arms from
Syria. He questioned the U.S. decision to increase the
capabilities of the Lebanese Armed Forces, saying he hoped
the U.S. and Israel could come to a better understanding on
the LAF. Whom did we think the LAF would fight, and what was
the point of providing them with UAVs and sniper rifles?
This equipment would eventually end up in the hands of
Hizballah. Buchris noted that before the Israeli withdrawal
from southern Lebanon, Hizballah had used sniper rifles to
shoot out sensors before launching attacks on IDF outposts.
Pointing to PDAS Feltman's recent discussions, the Ambassador
responded that the new U.S.-Israel dialogue on Lebanon was
useful and looking at how to contain Hizballah. We hope we
can come to agreement with Israel on the LAF, he said, adding
that no one wants to see Hizballah become stronger.

6. (S) Buchris said Israel was trying to make peace with
both Syria and the PA, but it was tough going. It is
nonetheless critical for Israel to try to find a way to
separate Syria from Iran and Hizballah. Buchris expressed
his hope that the U.S. would understand Israel's approach to
Syria, especially since driving a wedge between Damascus and
Tehran could only work if the U.S. supports it. The
Ambassador responded that our differences over Syria were a
matter of tactics, not goals. The U.S. was not thrilled by
Israel's initiation of indirect negotiations with Syria but
we did not try to stop it. Now the French have opened te
door to Syria. We will be looking for the bes possible
exchange with Israel in the coming monts. We should figure
out how best to use Syria'sinterest in negotiating with
Israel. We will alo continue to work with Egypt on managing
Hamas nd Gaza. We will be looking to coordinate closely
with Israel in all these areas.

Problems with Joint Strike Fighter

7. (S) Buchris said his last visit to th U.S. had not gone
well. He had visited Lockheed Martin's headquarters to
discuss the Joint Strike Fighter and had received the
impression that things were moving forward and that Israel
was a "full partner" in the program. Then he went to
Washington and had a "tough meeting" with General Davis
regarding the JSF's capabilities and price. Buchris stressed
that because of the threats it faces, Israel is "not like
other countries." Israel is not interested in scenarios for
projecting force. It has a real and concrete need to use its
military capabilities to protect its citizens. Israel is
doing everything it can to assist the U.S. military in Iraq
and Afghanistan, it is critical to fight terrorist
organizations everywhere, but Americans should understand
that the IDF's first need and responsibility is to protect
Israel. Buchris said he hoped we will develop a common
understanding on the JSF. We need solutions.

8. (S) The Ambassador praised Buchris for his work on export
controls, noting that he was satisfied the issue is behind us
and we should keep it that way. Regarding the JSF, the
Ambassador said part of the JSF problem is that Israel is
seeking a special package for a relatively small number of
aircraft. Nonetheless, the Ambassador said he would do his
best to ensure that we have the right kind of discussion
focused on solving problems.

West Bank Economic Development

TEL AVIV 00002236 003.2 OF 003

9. (C) The Ambassador observed that he is guardedly
optimistic about progress on the West Bank. There have been
positive developments in the Jenin area and security
cooperation between the IDF and PASF is improving. Now we
need to find ways to accelerate the economic development
component, including by working with Tony Blair and the
international donors. We share Israel's concern about a
possible confrontation between Hamas and Fatah when Abu
Mazen's term as PA president ends in January. We should meld
together the security and capacity-building components,
especially since security is the essential platform for
everything else. We have noticed steps the IDF has taken to
remove roadblocks. The Ambassador said he looks forward to
holding a more detailed discussion with the MOD on a strategy
for moving forward. It is essential to keep showing progress
on the ground.
The Ambassador said he had spoken to Barak about the PA
police barracks at Kadim. Giving Buchris a letter to Barak
formally requesting permission to build the barracks, the
Ambassador said the money is available and we could begin as
early as October if we get approval. If there are problems
he would like to know what they are so we can solve them

10. (C) Accepting the letter, Buchris said he is in charge
of promoting Palestinian economic development. He said he is
trying to remove as many barriers to development as possible,
but the main issue remains that the Palestinians must
demonstrate seriousness about security. Israelis and
Palestinians live next door to each other, the solution
should be two states for two peoples. Buchris assured the
Ambassador that he is doing his best to support economic
development and improve Palestinians' lives.

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